As music teachers we all face the same struggle at the beginning of the year: having to learn ALL of those names. Knowing the names of your students is very important for building a relationship with your students and classroom management. Particularly here in the preschool building I have found that saying “John, please sit down” is much much much more effective than “Sweet heart, please sit down!” It also pleases the students very much to be greeted by name in the morning during arrival.
My favorite trick for learning student names is to create a contact sheet in iPhoto on which photos of all students in one class are shown on one page, with their names underneath. Most of the teachers I work with are taking head shots of their students for various reasons during the first few days of school anyway, and they are happy to share. It is a small task to take pictures of the few classrooms that do not have them available.
Once I have the photos on my computer I create an album for each classroom in iPhoto. I will also use these albums throughout the year to store any photos I take of music classroom activities.
When you create the contact sheet it is helpful for the student name to be displayed directly under the face. iPhoto will print the name of the file underneath the photo in the contact sheet, so if you change the file name to the student’s name you will have a contact sheet on which names are printed under faces.
To do this click on any photo and then on the small “i” button at the bottom left of the iPhoto screen. This will display photo information. If you double click the information printed next to “title” you can enter the student’s name. If you have friendly helpful teachers or assistants they might take the few minutes to help you with this. Otherwise I find it a reasonable use of music class time on the first day, considering how much more efficiently I am able to learn names and consequentially conduct class!
Once you have entered all of the student’s names as titles you are ready to create your contact sheet.
Drag and select all of the photos you want to print on one page.
Click “File” and then select “Print”
On the left side of the print screen select “Contact Sheet”
The iPhoto default is to create a contact sheet with three columns. For most classrooms that will not be enough to get all students on one page. If you want all students on one page you need to customize the number of columns on your contact sheet.
Underneath the preview area click the “Customize” button.
On the resulting screen use the slider at the bottom to create more or less columns. I usually use as may columns as it takes to get all students on one page.
Click the “Print” button (right next to the slider you were just using) and your contact sheet will arrive at the printer!
These are useful for seating charts as well as learning names. I hope your school year is off to a great start!